Tribute to a World Statesman - Wacker Chemie AG

Tribute to a World Statesman

“Without this state-of-the-art machine, I could never have completed the project,” says Rucker. “The machine's unique design enabled me to do high-precision work sitting on a comfortable beanbag.” When the platinum face structure was complete, Rucker turned to the bust itself. This step consisted in making a negative mold of the RP mold in silicone rubber supplied by WACKER. To this end, he was visited in summer 2010 by Cornelia Pohl, head of the Moldmaking Sales team at DRAWIN, WACKER's specialist subsidiary for selling silicone elastomers. In the trunk of her car, she brought with her roughly 45 liters of ELASTOSIL ® M 4601 A/B. This two-component silicone rubber is a classic, tried-and-true molding compound for making non-shrink molds. When these are handled properly, they can be stored for many years and be used at any time, points out Pohl.

Rucker removes the bust from the separated silicone negative mold (left).

Good Self-Dearation

Crosslinking in ELASTOSIL® M 4601 A/B is activated by blending the A and B components, which contain the platinum catalyst and the hardening agent, respectively. The material can be worked for approx. 90 minutes at room temperature. Pohl poured a thin stream of the liquid silicone into the wooden molding box prepared by Rucker until it completely covered the head of Mandela. “ELASTOSIL® M 4601 A/B is ideal for such making molds by hand because it has excellent self-deaerating properties,” points out the DRAWIN employee. Air bubbles are absolutely taboo in such molds, she adds.

Having left the material to harden overnight, Rucker and Pohl then used a scalpel to cut the resultant mold into two pieces – and removed the RP starch/wax head of Mandela. The negative mold was then sent to the porcelain manufactory in Meißen, Saxony, where a positive mold was made of it and fired in porcelain. This was the back of Mandela's head, which was then attached to the platinum face.

At Mandela's 94th birthday on July 18, 2012, all the effort that had gone into making the artwork over the year finally came to fruition: the premier of the South African Western Cape Province, Helen Zille, unveiled the bust to the public for the first time at Nobel Peace Place on the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town. Invitations to the unveiling ceremony had been issued by the Bavarian State Chancellery and the government of Western Cape. “I am pleased that the art project entitled 'Nelson Mandela: Pure Mind – Rare Vision – Eternal Spirit' once again underlines Bavaria's friendly relations with South Africa,” wrote Bavarian Minister President Horst Seehofer in his greeting. The sculpture has been on display since early August in the Rupert Museum in Stellenbosch near Cape Town, which houses the most important collection of contemporary art in South Africa. “I can't imagine a more fitting home for the sculpture and I am very proud to see my work alongside works by Käthe Kollwitz and the father of modern plastic art, Auguste Rodin,” says Rucker.